Two arrested in gun thefts

Two Grand Haven men face possible life in prison for breaking into a gun shop in Muskegon County.
Becky Vargo
Jul 23, 2013


At least one of the men has also admitted to breaking into and stealing of guns from a Spring Lake business, Muskegon County Prosecutor D.J. Hilson said.

Joseph Jerry Sweet, 33, and Ronald Patrick Cook, 28, are lodged in the Muskegon County Jail on charges connected to the incident. Sweet is being held on a $125,000 bond and Cook is being held on a $100,000 bond.

Both are being charged with charged with breaking and entering a building, felon in possession of a firearm, larceny of a firearm, and being habitual offenders (fourth offense). Cook is also charged with two counts of felony firearm (second offense).

Hilson said the pair face up to life in prison, if convicted, because of being habitual offenders. He said most of their criminal history is in Ottawa County.

Police arrested the two men late last week after a multi-agency investigation into a burglary at Grasmeyer Guns in Twin Lake on July 13. Muskegon County Sheriff’s deputies responded to an alarm at the business about 12:30 a.m. and found the business had been entered and several guns were stolen.

Surveillance video showed two masked subjects breaking in and taking the firearms. Police are not releasing the video at this time.

Images of the suspects were obtained off the video and sent to area police departments.

Personnel from the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety recognized Sweet. They also recognized the car in the video as one Sweet was known to drive.

Grand Haven officers then located Sweet and his vehicle. Officials said the vehicle used in the break-in had been repainted.

Police obtained search warrants and further evidence of Sweet’s involvement in the break-in, they said.

Following his arrest, police identified Cook as the second suspect and arrested him in Ottawa County.

Police then recovered five of the handguns and all four rifles that had been stolen from the Muskegon County store.

Mike Hewitt, owner of Renegade River in Spring Lake, said Spring Lake/Ferrysburg Police had notified him of the pair's arrest, but it was not clear these men had burglarized his store in late June. Hewitt said that, as far as he knows, none of the eight handguns missing from his store have been recovered.

Spring Lake/Ferrysburg Police Chief Roger DeYoung said charges were pending in the Renegade River burglary.

Hewitt said he's a gun advocate, but he doesn’t want to see the guns in the wrong hands.

“Obviously, you want the people off the street,” he said from his hunting, camping and outdoor store on Monday. “I would feel a lot better if the guns were recovered. I’ve got nine grandkids in the area and I just want them safe.”

Assisting Muskegon County on the investigation were the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Ottawa County Sheriff's Department, Grand Haven Department of Public Safety, Spring Lake/Ferrysburg Police Department, and Michigan State Police Sixth District Fugitive Team.

The Muskegon County Prosecutor’s office has also been in contact with the U.S. Attorney’s Office regarding the case, and will continue to work with them during the investigation, Hilson said.



Yup, lets stiffen background checks, have longer waiting periods, eliminate large capacity clips, eliminate assualt style weapons on law abiding citizens so these two cannot get guns......oh wait a minute. Wonder if just locking this habitual offenders up for ever might help! Wonder if parenting had anything to do with these warts. I'm willing to bet these two have drug issues stemming from when these Jr. warts being able to run free when at pre wart stage in their life!

How about we focus on the root causes of crime instead of reacting to symptoms!

Most likely these two are lost causes, lock'm up keep society free of them.


I agree 100%


Here we go again.

1) We do not need more gun laws, we need better enforcement of what we have.
2) Owning a gun should be no different than owning a car.
3) You should be licensed to own the gun. Some guns will and should carry a special license to ensure the owner is trained in using and securing it.
4) If the gun is stolen, and you fail to report it, you have committed a crime. No exceptions.

Honestly I want these business owners to be held accountable for their inability to secure these guns. I do not believe there to be a full proof system, but if you plan to sell guns and gun accessories, you must maintain secure access to them.

I wanna see CC systems, I wanna see anything that is not a rifle, stored in a safe, or in a display case that would make someone sorry for attempting to get into it without a key.

I wanna hear alarms going off the second something in that store is out of place. There is accountability when selling items that can and do hurt people, and businesses that profit from them, should do everything in their power to protect these weapons from falling into the wrong hands.


I was listening until you wanted to make the victim of the crime responsible! What are you talking about could not be more fitting name here. That's like saying a rape victim is somehow accountable because she is attractive and showing her face! Welcome to Sharia law.

The guns were in a locked building for crying out loud. They had them secure.

Cars kill people, should we make car dealers accountable when someone steals a car off a lot?

Again, what are we doing to deal with the root causes? Everyone incarerated for a crime with a gun should be subject to a study about their life and habits. Guarantee there will be a very clear profile of what the root causes are.

The insanity in the debate is focusing in the object (gun) and not the human!


Let me know when you can carry a hummer into a school and go from classroom to classroom killing people.

Your taking your comparisons to extremes. Women who are rapped are not lined up against the wall is a specific part of town waiting for whom ever to come have their way with them. They are raped in different situations in different locations.

Guns on the other hand are different. You must got to a very specific place to obtain them. You cannot just be walking up the street and see a gun walk by and decide “I’mma steal that”.

Using your logic, it’s a sound strategy to leave nuclear power plants un-protected so long as there is a lock on the gate.
Coffee is hot. You know it’s hot. It’s why you drink it. Yet in this country, we have to put labels on our coffee to tell people it’s hot.
People are dumb. They do dumb things. Like steal guns. The sellers of these guns need to be held accountable for the security involved in protecting them.
“I locked the deadbolt, that should be good enough!” is flat out not good enough.

I'm not giving the a-holes who stole these guns a free pass. These guys are repeats and should be taken care of with extreme prejudice.
But these dim wits managed to break into multiple locations without too much effort. Alarm bells are ringing Willy!


Alright, I'll follow your logic. What happens when they focus on home invasion with the intent if finding firearms to steal! Do we then make all home owners that have guns stolen accountable if the weapon is used in a crime?

BTW, have you heard of "fast and furious?" Maybe you should explain your theory to Eric Holder and Obama's justice department.


If you look back to my original post, if a firearm is stolen, you should report it. No excuses.

I do believe, that some specific guns (this goes back to the licensing issue) should have specific safety requirements to own.

Let's say for example you have a MAC-10. I think you should have a special license to own this gun. I think you should also be required to maintain a specific level of security for a gun like this.

I'm not saying that the dude that steals it is not a scum bag, or that they shouldn’t be taken out back behind the wood shed. What I am saying is owning/selling a gun is a responsibility, and it should not be taken lightly. And setting standards for people on the best way to secure these items seems only logical.

I'm not saying the guy with a single action 30.30 needs to have a gun safe, but I think his gun and shells should be stored in different locations at a minimum. But I'm not a gun safety expert.


Wholly crap...whose is going to monitor where ammunition is stored by the legal gun owners? The Gestapo?

Maybe I can help you back off the cliff whatare. I get that you want gun owners to be responsible and most are and do just as you suggest. But targeting legal law abiding citizens as the solution is not going to do a n y t h i n g to stop crime. It only takes away our liberties as law abiding citizens.

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety" - Benjamin Franklin


You always take it to an extreme. I honestly do not believe your average gun owner would need to do anything extra then they already do. My comments about shell location via gun location was something I do. I even go as fair to take the bolts out of all of my display rifles and store them in the floor safe.(I do believe that if you want a hand gun, you should be forced to obtain a CCW.)

I would not expect any enforcement of storage for someone with hunting rifles. I do believe that if you own hand guns you should be forced to show proof of proper secure storage. (This is my safe, this is the safes serial number, etc.)

Will this make it impossible for the guns to be stolen? Nope!
Will this force the individual to use the secure storage? Nope!

If the guns get stolen, and they are reported stolen(no excuses here), and it just so happens the owner left their hand guns chilling on the kitchen table when they ran to Wesco to get scratch off's and popcorn, you better damn believe that person should be held accountable for any fall out that happens because of those guns being stolen.

What I am talking about is not a removal of rights. In-fact it's granting more rights. Responsible gun owners who purchase the correct licenses, and have the proper training, and can secure their weapons, should not be limited in their choice of available options.

But with this responsibility comes an obligation to ensure that these items are kept safe, and all possible means of protecting these guns from falling into the wrong hands are made. This is the same set of rules I would impose on gun retailers. (Though a bit more strict do the sheer number of guns in one location.)

If you can't see that this particular idea is a viable means to help ensure gun rights, by helping to limit illegal gun propagation I don't think this conversation will bear any fruit for either of us Wing!


I have enjoyed this discussion and allowed you the space to hear out your theory. Problem is it your "solutions" do not solve the crime problem or keep guns out of the hands of those that will do us harm. Honestly, nothing will!

That said, we need to reach these at risk kids before they become societies problem. The culture needs to change. The cycle of broken families, out of wed lock births, drug addiction, are all producing people with out purpose. Someone with no purpose, no morals, no structure is going to descend into an animal like existence where he or she only thinks about their immediate needs or desires. Making it more difficult for me to defend my home or family from that mentality because I need to jump through more hoops after I have already taken gun safety classes, registered my weapons and demonstrated a lifetime of responsible gun ownership is an assault on my liberties. I am not the criminal and neither are you so lets attack the problem, not the the victim or the responsible.

Your probably right about the conversation bearing fruit and we will have to agree to disagree on the solution. Making the victim of a crime somehow responsible for an idiots action with the stolen weapon defies logic unless gross negligence was involved by the owner. Have a good evening.


Negligence of any kind that results in a weapon falling into the hands of an idiot is gross.


Whatwereyoureadingabout? Although I concur with Wing's comments, the article clearly states that the men were identified from a surveillance in the store which they approached after an alarm went off. This small business owner protected his merchandize with both alarms and video - that is entirely sufficient, unless you want to chip in and pay for whatever other protections you would like to have. Maybe I would chip in toward a mantrap (shotgun pointed at the door connected with a string) - the ultimate burglary insurance which I'm sure you would support - Right?


If a man trip keeps these bastards from getting to the guns do it.
If you read back to my comments you'll see a number of ideas, and you'll also notice I make note that I'm no gun safety expert.

You'll also note that there were in fact two stores robbed here. And the owner of the store that actually had some degree of security was able to assist in nabbing these jerks before any harm was done. The SL store on the other hand contributed nothing but the guns. Poke, Poke, Wink, Wink, Say no more.


give them life with hard labor


Grand Haven can do with out these mental midgets for the next 30 years....lockem up.

Mystic Michael

Arguing that the loopholes & the soft spots in the gun laws don't need to be tightened up because people sometimes steal guns, makes about as much sense as arguing that the laws against murder don't need to be rigorously enforced, because people sometimes take their own lives.

In the ongoing effort to reduce gun crimes, of course locking up the habitual offenders will help. Obviously.

But in what alternate universe does locking up habitual offenders automatically mean that the gun show loopholes should remain wide open? Or how does locking up habitual offenders mean that a reasonable, consistent policy of pre-purchase background checks must not be implemented? Or that locking up habitual offenders means weapons of mass slaughter (i.e. military-style automatic weapons capable of firing 100+ rounds per minute) should be accessible to anyone who wants to buy them - no questions asked?

Are gun store robberies the ONLY means by which opportunistic petty criminals & mentally deranged persons ever try to acquire firearms? And if not, what is wrong with putting in place a few reasonable, minimally-intrusive measures to identify them and to stop them - before they can carry out the violence that is in their minds & hearts? Is our ONLY option simply to stand by passively and wait, until it is time to clean up the carnage after the fact? It seems to me that responsible, law-abiding citizens would be the most supportive of such preventative measures - since it is their very safety & security that such measures are intended to protect.

The shaping of this public policy by the citizenry is something that should be done with reason, wisdom, enlightened discourse, and common sense - NOT driven by the irrational excesses of rage & fear. Haven't we as a nation had enough of that kind of primitive policy-making already?


See my ultimate anti-burglary insurance tool above. Join me in shaping public policy to permit this simple solution, both effective and cost-effective. Let's have a moment - a born & bred New Yawka and an immigrant one.


MM Quote, "Or that locking up habitual offenders means weapons of mass slaughter (i.e. military-style automatic weapons capable of firing 100+ rounds per minute) should be accessible to anyone who wants to buy them - no questions asked?"

Then, if habitual offender Bernie Madoff is now locked up then, this country ought not allow anymore investing of their personal money as they choose fit - no questions asked? Perhaps, we should let Bernie go free and put more restrictions on the victims means of investing their money instead? Am' I tracking correctly here? Someone help me, please.


Ron shouldn't been even handling guns, I heard a roomer that he accedently shot and killed his younger sister. And he just got off probation not long ago.


He stole the guns, nothing was legally obtained. It has nothing to do with handling guns which you seem to imply a law would prohibit!


Shooting sister was an acident he was super young under the age 7. But yes he he was deemed armed and dangerous a while back.


Lets send them to a North Korea hard labor camp, the US prisons are to easy for them!

retired DOC

It appears that both have been convicted before. Felons with firearms are federal crimes. Lets see if Obuma/Holder will charge them with the federal crimes and put them in federal prison.


Sweet, their goose is Cook(ed).
Hang 'em from the highest yardarm! Why prolong their agony by having us pay to keep them alive for another 50 years? Just wait until after Bubba has his way with them in prison 1st. At least let's hope Cook's tattoo comes to fruition...The End Justifies The Means, and they both end with life in prison with no parole.


Ron was 4 when the incident happened with his older sister and there was a parent to be blamed on that one. He has been tormented by that ever since. A couple people posting here know him and are probably a couple of the ones that won't let him forget what happened when he was 4. Breaking the law is not the answer either.


Well guess that confirms my original post way at the top of the page. So he needs to be locked up now because of bad parenting. Better that then him in society stealing from or harming someone.


Maybe the gubmint could come up with a test for parenting skills once pregnant, leaving forced abortion & sterilization a viable option for those with failing grades?


No gubment needed, just make parents serve possible jail time when precious commits a crime. Coddling the little bast..ds and their parents just gets us more of the same and adult crimminals such as these two warts!


I've heard his mom lost two jobs for stealing


I heard she does not wash her hands after visiting the restroom.



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